Intro – Greatest Delusion of Our Time

In my first post, I introduce Brian O’Connor (BO) while referring to myself as Future Historian (FH). Here I discuss the main thesis of this blog. Every post will serve only to elaborate on this one thesis.

BO: When American real estate reached a permanently high plateau in 2005, there was a vocal minority (e.g. Peter Schiff) that warned us of an impending collapse. Human history is full of examples where the majority are firmly convinced of things that just ain’t so. In the Dark Ages, humans believed that the sun revolves around the earth, that that bleeding our bodies with leeches will help cure sickness, and they were oblivious to the possibility of a transformation of society resulting from an industrial and technological revolution. Demonstrate to our audience that you are a future historian, that you can see clearly where we stand today in a broader historical context. What is the single most important way in which people today are failing to see the obvious?

FH: First of all, our culture has accumulated so much scientific knowledge and technological aids that there is no reason for any more self-delusions. Just as Peter Schiff was able to see the fallacy in believing that home prices cannot decline, we can all see the false assumptions people are making about our society and our future, if only they are inclined to want to know the truth.

The greatest delusion today lies in our morality. Peace, freedom, equality, and ecological conservation (i.e. humanistic values) are considered to be noble aims worth striving for. Leading intellectuals such as Daniel Dennett and Richard Dawkins espouse such values despite their interest in the very theories that render them obsolete. Evolutionary theory and the concept of memes are incompatible with traditional moral values. One can, of course, argue that scientific minds such as Dennett and Dawkins are aware of this, but claim to be in agreement with the religious and superstitious mainstream for purely political reasons. If true, this would be remarkably brilliant, but I think this is impossible.

BO: Hold on. Why is it impossible?

FH: It is easy to pretend to be in agreement with the mainstream because they cannot reason logically, so any argument you give them is good enough. However, I find it hard to believe people who devote the better part of their lives to objective reasoning would be able to find the motivation to persistently churn out moral nonsense, if they did not truly believe in it.

BO: But wait a minute. Einstein was fond of saying that that you cannot derive an “ought” from an “is”. Practically every scientist will agree with some version of this idea. Are you sure all these brilliant minds are mistaken?

FH: We take it for granted that corporations try to maximize their profits. Corporations are free to try to spend themselves into oblivion, but those who are more or less profit-minded will tend to outcompete the rest…

BO: So you’re saying that humanistic values don’t offer competitive advantages? I don’t think that is obvious at all.

FH: No, I think humanistic values are quite competitive. To me, they’re like the dinosaurs, who were probably more competitive than primates. Humanistic values threaten to get us stuck in an evolutionary stalemate because they are concerned only with short-term time horizons. It’s like the dinosaurs. They’re big. They’re strong. They can dominate. They are not about to give little mammals a chance to develop the intelligence needed to compete against them. So there you have it in a nutshell. This is the big oversight of contemporary humans.

BO: What if you’re wrong? What if it’s your fascist memes that represent the dinosaurs who threaten to get us stuck in an evolutionary stalemate?

FH: For one thing, it is the fascist memes in particular that are concerned with the future whereas the humanistic memes are focused on the short-term almost by definition. This is, in fact, a recurring theme in Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

BO: Careful with that line of thought. Free market capitalism isn’t concerned with the greater good of the people, either, yet this short-sighted system has proved to be superior to the more far-sighted communistic economies in creating viable, efficient economies.

FH: Baloney. It is the hosts of humanistic memes who are obsessed with creating change from the top down. Get the right people into positions of power and then they’ll be able to implement desired social policies. That’s the only paradigm they can motivate themselves to act on.

BO: How can you be sure about that?

FH: They can only think short-term. True evolution is from the bottom up, but that takes a long time. It takes far longer than human lifetimes to see the desired results.

BO: And how can you be so sure that they only think short-term?

FH: Because they cling to an individual sense of identity.

BO: But then that sort of says it all, doesn’t it? If someone doesn’t cling to an individual sense of identity, they’ll agree with everything you have to say. There’s nothing to explain to them, since you’re not particularly bright and your arguments are pretty elementary and straightforward. On the other hand, if someone clings to individuality, then their thinking is optimized to win arguments, so it’s a waste of time arguing with them, as they’re not interested in reasoning correctly.

FH: I agree that’s it from a high level. The rest is just fleshing out the details.

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